Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bernie in New Mexico

There was a good turnout today for Bernie Sanders' speech in front of the Student Union Building at the University of New Mexico. (2000 attended according to the Albuquerque Journal report)

Bernie expressed his appreciation for how effectively Trump had illustrated the need for reform of the U.S. Tax system.  The rest of the presentation was pretty much the standard stump speech which we have now heard many times, but it was reassuring to hear the strength and clarity of Bernie's voice.  If Clinton can bring along a Senate majority, Bernie will have a significant say in what the Budget looks like for the next four years.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Wrong Message

Three weeks from the election it appears that Clinton is heading for a win.  Pundits and pollsters may disagree over whether the outcome will be a squeaker or a landslide, but it seems that it would take something of a cataclysm to move Trump into the lead.

Regardless of the outcome of the election, Republicans are faced with a daunting effort to rebuild the Republican brand and bring together a very divided party to regain viability.  In the short term, the Republicans in office are focused on holding onto their congressional majorities at the national and state levels.  A clear path to a winning long-term strategy is not in the offering at the moment, but it seems that most of the Republican leaders outside of the die-hard Trumpists have a pretty clear view of the future's challenges.

A Clinton win will offer a sigh of relief and a brief respite from concerns about judicial  appointments and other liberal causes, but there is a serious danger of misinterpreting the results of the Presidential contest.  Democrats are aware of the fact that winning the Presidency will have little effective value if congressional majorities are not regained, and that picture remains very unclear at this point.  The less obvious internal threat long-term is from interpreting a Clinton win as an endorsement from the electorate of the status quo.

Bernie supporters won't have a hard time discerning that is the wrong message from a Clinton win.  However, the Democratic Party establishment is going to have a more difficult time coming to grips with that reality if their candidate takes office, regardless of Hillary's obvious vulnerabilities and the strong showing of the opposition in the primaries.

Looking at congressional races around the country it is pretty clear that most of the Democratic incumbents are playing the usual game with a focus on party loyalty and traditional fund raising tactics with acceptance of support from deep pocket contributors including banks and big energy.  What portion of the next generation leaders remain tied to those strategies is hard to gauge.  A second term for Clinton seems pretty iffy under even the best circumstances, and if the Democratic leadership does not effectively acknowledge the demand for significant change, it seems inevitable that the Democrats will face the same kind of meltdown in 2020 that the Republicans are going through now.

The second tier parties are also facing a moment of truth.  The Libertarians under Johnson do not have enough of a platform to sustain a serious assault on power.  Jill Stein is a more credible spokesperson for her Green Party, but pouring all of her energy into a quixotic run for the Presidency seems to lead nowhere.  Still, there are going to be some big prizes flapping in the wind including Trump's gang, Bernie's democratic socialists and the great, little understood mass of people called Independents.

Interesting times.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Road Trip

We drove north yesterday to spend the afternoon walking through three of the Anasazi Great House sites at Chaco Canyon.  The last five miles of the washboard road into the Park is a stern test for any vehicle, but the old Toyota held up pretty well.

A lot of people have discovered that this is the best time of the year to visit Chaco. The campground is reservation only now, and it was full up in the middle of the week.  Since I wasn't up to camping out this time anyway, we decided to head back to Cuba to get dinner and spend the night at the Frontier Motel.

Kiva at Chetro Ketl, Chaco Canyon

On the way home on 550 we made a little side trip at the turn-off to San Luis which leads to the Guadalupe Ruins, the southernmost Chaco outlier.  We did not drive that far in, but we did stop to enjoy the early Fall color along the Rio Puerco and some nice views of Cabezon Peak.

I shot a couple rolls of color in the Pentax, so hope to get those processed later today and will put anything worthwhile on my photo blog.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

3D On Line

I started playing around with 3D drawing nearly ten years ago using the SketchUp program when it still belonged to Google. I devoted about a year to learning the program and produced quite a few 3D models, some of which can be viewed by clicking the link to my 3D Warehouse folder over in the right column.

(Left click for 3D interaction.  Model loads slowly.  Hold down center mouse button to drag and move model.)

Trimble, Inc. took over the program and made quite a few additions and improvements to it.  Now, they have made an on line beta version available.  It is surprisingly responsive, and fun to play with.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Promise and Fulfillment

Playing with my little yard sale Lumix is a good reminder about how a simple digital camera brought me back to photography on the eve of the present century.

At the time, I was looking just for a way to add some graphic interest to my web design efforts.  The limited resolution of the 1.3 megapixel images I got from my Epson digital point-and-shoot was not a significant limitation given the modest requirements of on line presentation.  What really took me by surprise, however, was the versatility of the digital camera, particularly in regard to the effortless production of extreme close-ups.  The removal of any concern about the number of exposures which might be made in a single session was also a source of encouragement to explore and develop graphic design ideas.

While the 10-megapixel Lumix is quite a lot more sophisticated than my early Epson, its viewfinder display is similarly easily defeated by bright light reflections, and the shutter lag makes capturing any kind of action highly problematic.  All of which ultimately drove me back to using manually operated film cameras -- first, my Pentax Spotmatic, and then around a hundred other film cameras.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Fiesta 2016

The highlight for me of the Balloon Fiesta is always the afternoon of Flamenco performances in Albuquerque's Plaza Vieja.

Friday, October 7, 2016


We drove south from Albuquerque to visit the mission ruins at Quarai.  The church was built in one of three of the eastern-most Pueblo settlements in New Mexico.

 It is hard to believe that such massive structures could have been built in such a remote location with only the most basic tools.  Most of the labor was done under the direction of the Franciscan friars by Pueblo women.

Paul Horgan in Great River describes the church as it would have appeared when it was in use for a few decades of the 17th Century:
"...the nave at Quarai was one hundred two feet long and fifty-seven wide -- the churches were built with false perspective so that the nave would seem even greater.  White plaster with colored decorations made the interior brilliant.  Light fell upon the altar from a transverse clerestory window above the transept.  Wooden beams, alters and corbels were carved and painted and touched with gilt.  The ceiling was between thirty and forty feet above the floor."

Quarai today is ringed by many old cottonwoods which provide welcome shade for a quiet stroll through the site.  It seems unlikely they would have been part of the scenery when the Pueblo was inhabited as people dependent on wood for fuel tend to clear-cut their immediate surroundings.  The massive timbers over the doors, windows and roofs of the church were probably hewed from logs dragged down from the nearby Manzano Mountains.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Heavy Breathing

It is that time of year again when hordes of hot air balloons fill Albuquerque's sky.

12th St. and Mountain Rd NW

The balloons often skim quite close to the roofs in the residential districts surrounding downtown.  As the propane burners are pulsed to maintain altitude, they sound like asthmatic old men laboring up a steep stairway.  The movement and sounds leave a trail of barking dogs in their wake.